Monday, February 06, 2006

Top Liberal Defects for some reason or another.

Members of parliament represent their constituents; at least that is how a democracy is supposed to work. Defections in the House of Commons are not unheard of, or all that rare, but they are usually a little less random, or apparently greed driven.

It is perhaps not unfair to ask for a plum position when you cross the floor, as you run the risk of castrating your political career, but usually a floor crossing should happen not because of what is being offered, but in spite of it.

Historically, defections occur over political ideological differences, and often make the difference between the Government falling or key legislature being passed. (Defections either to bring the government down, or pass legislature.)

Last summer, the Belle of the Tory party (Belinda Stronach) crossed the floor (the house of commons being divided such that the party(ies) that have formed the government on one side, and the opposition parties on the other, with a space separating them, aka the floor.) to avert the fall of the Liberal government by supporting a controversial same-sex marriage bill. Much furor and ire was raised, as well as debate. People questioned if she was abandoning her party, her values, or her constituents. In the end it was up to the people of the memorized Aurora riding to decide, and they supported her decision by reelecting her under her new party in the recent federal election.

So today, with the announcement of the new cabinet, it came as a shock that David Emerson has crossed the floor to the Conservative party. What baffles me is the timing of the whole issue, why now? Parliament hasn't even been in session yet, there are no contentious issues on the table, and the Liberal party is to busy picking a leader to even bother trying to take down the Government, so why cross the floor?

Perhaps he thought that he had a strong mandate from the Vancouver Kingsway riding? Nope, it was a contested riding all right, but between the Liberals and the NDP, not the Conservatives. Which really begs the question, is it fair to Vancouver Kingsway to have their votes thrown in their face like this?

Now the question of why he made the move might have been personal greed, but I wonder if the Tories were fishing for possible converts. You see, the numbers from the election fall such that the Tory/NDP coalition government holds 153 of 307 seats, or 49.83% In other words, all votes fall to either the official opposition, the one independent* or the national traitor party to uphold. From an optics (public opinion) point of view, it is important that the ruling party be able to rule, and the opposition party resist the ruling party, so that bills passed by the House of Commons are well debated at shaped to fit the Canadian identity. With the way the seats lay, for the Government to be effective, it would have be forced to court the Bloc Quebequois, no nationalist leader wants to do. So it is very likely that Harper and his team went fishing for a likely Liberal, to give their party the strength it needed to forge and effective government. What's more, if the Liberal party wants to have an effective run as an opposition party, I wouldn't have been surprised if they helped give Emerson the nudge. Especially considering the riding that he defected from, a strong left leaning riding; it will not be unsurprising if the Liberals sweep it back into the fold next time around.

Anyways, that is enough political speculation for the day. If I'm lucky, I'm going to finish my as of yet unblogged about project tonight, and get it posted for all to see.

*The one independent seems to me like a mockery of the election process. He is an unaffiliated, outspoken, shock jock from Quebec. Could you imagine if Howard Stern was elected in the States? He will probably be ineffective, and has done nothing but separate another riding of Quebec from having an effect on Federal politics.

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